Hey guys, I just got back from an overnighter and my initial attempt at tarp camping. I'm a hammock guy, why am I a hammock guy? Site selection, hills roots, rocks no problem. Mud, ain't no mud in the air between them thar trees. Crawling and slithering things down on that ground too, they don't like my permethrin soaked hammock suspension or bugnet. COMFORT!!! I like comfort who doesn't?
Back to by initial foray with the tarp. So I was challenged to go to the ground, and I really don't have that gear other than a beastly tent and I'd like to stay out of camp grounds. I decided to take my 5' x 7' walmart coated tarp for ground cover(10 oz.), a Bias Buginator (9.5 oz.), a Warbonnet SpinnUL Edge tarp (10.5' x 7.5') with door kit and guys (18 oz.) for my shelter. 2.3 lbs., not good but I'm improvising here. If it would have been fair weather I would have taken my 5 oz. diamond tarp that would have got me to 1.35 lbs. but wet if it rains.
Sleeping pad (1.5 lbs.) 35* TQ, (20oz.), bag liner for a sheet (10 oz.), 3.38 lbs. not great but use what ya' got right?
The walmart tarp is rigged with shock cord on all 4 sides, I used it as a under quilt protector and in warm weather by itself. The shock cord came in handy, I used a stick as a toggle and ran the 2 ends at each corner to the tarp tieouts which raised the edges of the ground cover tarp up like the bath tub floors of tents. I hadn't expected that! The buginator was rigged with it's own suspension low to the ground with one end quite low and the other just high enough to sit in comfortably just below the tarp which was hung with the lower doors completely closed and the other doors several inches apart. The doors connect to their stake with shock cord to make entry/exit easy. The sleeping pad would be placed on top of the bugnet's oval shock cord entry/exit that would not be completely closed just as it would be rigged for a hammock.
I was semi-excited about the rain in the forecast and wondering how well this thrown together rig would work. The rain true to forecast would begin about 5 am, light but with short burst of showers. It was daylight and this would help if I needed to adjust or bail. Though bailing would be a walk of a little over 4 miles, but I've got a poncho and boots if I failed. I had not tried to set this up before the trip so I was unsure if it would work. I had tied the bugnet up low to see if that would work and it did.
The bugnet would prove to be a success, the only site at Kings Mountain National Park is leafy and there are plenty of spiders and bugs enjoying that habitat, several spiders and bugs treked across the ground cover during setup. But none entered the permethrin treated bugnet, I did spray ground covers edge with deet after setup. Victory there.
The morning rains proved the setup would work, but I needed a dripline on the bugnet suspension. That would dampen the foot end of my TQ and the foot end of the pad right at the doors also got wet, I stayed dry, my gear stayed dry and I considered that another victory.
Positives I took away, the ground CAN be dealt with, I even liked the ground level visibility, and I know this method could be employed with the proper gear to go very light.
Negatives, THE GROUND!, it ain't level, it ain't hospitable and it's the GROUND, the muddy ground, some place all campers, camp dogs, and critters PEE!
But seriously it was enjoyable, but the only permitted camp site there has few options and none of those are level, and leveling the earth is hardly leave no trace compliant!
I'm really not here to evangelize for hammock camping, but for me I find not only is that the path of least resistance, it is the best way to leave no trace and the most comfortable and most flexible way to sleep in the woods. I find hammocks really simplify things add a tree table and a canister or alcohol stove it can be like you were never even there.
I plan on adding a larger tarp to my gear box, maybe a 12' x 10' with doors which should be up to the job of tarp camping, something like a Warbonnet Superfly. What do you tarpers think would that type of tarp lend itself to tarp camping?
The bugnet is my real question, I just have to have one, large enough for 2 with zippered entrance and a silnylon floor. What do you guys use? I don't think I want to get past this requirement, I'm no cowboy and this is 2015 so I don't have to camp like one.
I look forward to any suggestions or comments.